A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need the advice.
- Bill Cosby
During this election summer, I am reminded again that I am ill-equipped to be a political adviser.
The candidates - with primaries looming in South Carolina and Georgia - are out in force. I read about their speeches. I scan their ads and I watch their commercials on TV with a sense of irritated puzzlement.
"Do they think we're really this stupid?" I've asked my wife a dozen times. The answer she always gives, with perhaps a lingering gaze at me, is yes.
While I might not be a political adviser, I am a professional observer, and if asked to improve the latest round of Georgia gubernatorial TV commercials, here is what I would do:
Sonny did it all
The incumbent Gov. Sonny Perdue has really pretty commercials. There is a certain movie quality to them. In my mind, however, Mr. Perdue comes across as a bragging bully.
"Sonny did this," "Sonny did that ..." And he did it all while cracking down on misbehaving schoolkids, making tough decisions on budget cuts, and - my favorite - telling the Supreme Court to leave Georgia alone.
In the film clips, I'm struck by the fact that his images are quick and indirect, as if we're catching a glimpse through a window of this Georgian Caesar.
Show all the pretty pictures, but end it with a eye-to-eye direct appeal to the voters. Tell them, "We've come this far in four years. Let's finish the job over the next four."
Cathy Cox rocks
The secretary of state who would like to be Georgia's first female governor went Mayberry in her first offerings, sitting in a rocker on the family porch and talking about growing up and watching her father deal with people and their problems. If the film had been shot in black and white, you would have thought it was the set of The Andy Griffith Show, or perhaps To Kill a Mockingbird.
I like this commercial, but as someone pointed out recently, Ms. Cox's father isn't running for governor - she is.
My advice? Affirm that she learned the lesson.
She needs to look into the camera and say, "We all learned something from talking with each other on those porches of our youth. Let's apply those lessons to government."
Mark Taylor likes babies
There really is something oddly disconnected about watching the large lieutenant governor in his dark suit playing with a bunch of babies in some sort of white room. But what's his message?
That Mr. Taylor is playful?
That Mr. Taylor likes children?
That Mr. Taylor - despite the suit - is a regular guy?
Have Mr. Taylor change a diaper.
It's practical. It proves he's not afraid to directly help children.
And you can't beat the political symbolism.
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.